Archive for December 4th, 2008

This week, I have been talking about getting triggered after child abuse. I shared a recent experience about when I was badly triggered and how I dealt with it. In this post, I want to provide some tips for dealing with triggers.

First of all, when (not if) you get triggered, don’t beat yourself up. I have been working very hard on healing from the child abuse for over five years. By anyone’s standards, I am far along the path of healing, and yet I was able to be triggered in a matter of seconds. It made me feel like I had made no progress at all. This is normal for a child abuse survivor.

I felt like I had always been in this terrible place and would never know freedom again. It felt like I had been sucked down into a deep, dark well where there was no sunlight or even the hope of sunlight. I just wanted to die. I wanted relief from the pain at whatever cost. I was only in this terrible place for about 30 hours, but it felt like decades. While I was triggered, nobody could have convinced me that I would ever feel better again.

I have written myself a note to (hopefully) get me through my next triggering faster. I am very susceptible to being triggered during the holidays, so I have no question that I will get the “opportunity” to test out this tactic before the year’s end. My note says three things:

  1. Breathe
  2. 36 hours
  3. Feed the right wolf

That’s really all I need to know to pull out of the triggering.

1. Breathe

When I get triggered, my breathing becomes very shallow. By breathing deeply, I help pull myself back into the present and back into my body. As soon as I started breathing deeply, I felt a little better. That is the very first thing that I need to remember.

2. 36 hours

When I am in that bad, bad place, it feels like I will never get out. Reminding myself that I will feel much better within 36 hours shows me that there will be an end to that pain. I just have to get through 36 hours, and then I will be okay. I hope that will give me the strength to hold on.

3. Feed the right wolf

This has to do with the Native American story that I shared here. When I am triggered, it is as if someone just fed my “evil wolf” a big, juicy steak. My tendency is to continue to feed that wolf by fueling the self-hatred.

Instead, when I am triggered, it is very important for me to feed my “good wolf” by being very gentle with myself. I need to be compassionate and set aside time to do things that I enjoy.

Also, I need to remember not to fight the pain. Instead, I need to let it flow out of me. I don’t want to keep it inside of myself. I need to let it out. Giving in to feeling the pain flow is an investment in feeling much, much better very soon.

Now, I just need to remember to read this blog entry the next time I am triggered!

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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